Switzerland and South Africa step up cooperation on science

Bern, 01.05.2012 - A high-level Swiss delegation led by the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) arrived in South Africa last week and met their counterparts from the South African Department of Science and Technology to discuss the main points of the second phase of cooperation under the bilateral agreement signed in 2007.

At the joint Swiss-South African committee meeting held in Cape Town, the two parties gave a highly positive assessment of the first phase of the programme (2008-2012), in which Switzerland has invested around CHF 7.8 million. This investment, made on a match-funding basis, has been used for 16 joint research projects of an excellent scientific standard in the fields of public health and biomedicine, bio- and nanotechnology, and humanities and social sciences. This has involved 67 young researchers from the two countries, and 35 scientific papers have been published. 80 young researchers from Switzerland and South Africa have also benefited from exchange grants.

Special emphasis was also placed on facilitating the path to application, through a programme for young entrepreneurs in the field of biotechnology. Nine research projects involving at least one partner from industry were granted seed money.

As far as the 2013-2016 phase is concerned, the two parties agreed to maintain the same financial commitment as for the previous period, subject to parliamentary approval, and to include renewable energy (greentech and cleantech) as a priority research field. A call for project proposals will be launched in autumn 2012 under the joint authority of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), with the support of the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and the South African Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). Furthermore, direct dialogue between Swiss and South African research funding agencies will be intensified over the coming years, with the aim of sharing expertise and competences.

The delegation included Professor Antonio Loprieno, President of the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS) and Rector of the University of Basel, which is the leading house for the bilateral programme; Professor Marcel Tanner, Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), the associated leading house for the programme; Klara Sekanina, Director of the CTI; and representatives from the SNSF, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Address for enquiries

State Secretariat for Education and Research SER
Hallwylstrasse 4
3003 Berne


State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) - as of 1.1.2013 SERI